CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Marcus Paige turned in yet another big second-half performance for North Carolina. This time it was good enough to help the Tar Heels beat No. 5 Duke in the rivalry’s weather-delayed game.
Paige scored all 13 of his points in the second half, including two big baskets in the final 2½ minutes, to help the Tar Heels beat the Blue Devils 74-66 on Thursday night for their eighth straight win.
Senior Leslie McDonald added a season-high 21 points for the Tar Heels (19-7, 9-4 Atlantic Coast), who rallied from 11 points down in the second half to snap a two-game home losing streak to the Blue Devils (21-6, 10-4).
It was by far North Carolina’s most impressive win during the run that has helped the Tar Heels dig out from an 0-3 ACC start. Before Thursday, most of the wins had come against teams standing at sixth or lower in the league standings.
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The Tar Heels responded with a tough-minded but not always pretty performance that was good enough to wrestle control away from the Blue Devils.
The Tar Heels shot 47 percent from the field and even made their last 10 free throws in the final six minutes after a disastrous start at the line, providing a rousing finish befitting the long-running rivalry.
Jabari Parker and Quinn Cook both scored 17 points for Duke, which led 51-40 with about 15 minutes left before going ice cold from the field. The Blue Devils missed 13 straight shots and went scoreless for six minutes at one point, helping the Tar Heels climb back into the game.
Duke shot 36 percent (11 for 31) after halftime and finished 5 for 22 from three-point range for the game.
Top 5 women
No. 2 Notre Dame 86, at Wake Forest 61
Jewell Loyd had 29 points and 10 rebounds as Notre Dame (26-0, 13-0 Atlantic Coast) overcame poor shooting to beat Wake Forest (14-12, 5-8).
No. 4 S. Carolina 81, at No. 15 Kentucky 58
Aleighsa Welch had 21 points and 10 rebounds, Khadijah Sessions added 18 points and South Carolina (24-2, 12-1 Southeastern) set a school record for regular-season victories with the rout of Kentucky (19-7, 7-6).